Originally published in 1848 as a political pamphlet, The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels would become one of the most influential works of the era. Written as a summary of the authors’ political thought, the Manifesto is also a reflection of the unrest and the revolutions of the time.
The Manifesto analyzes the struggle due to social inequality and the problems presented by a capitalist society. This work also speculates on the limited future of a totally capitalist driven economy, predicting that eventually the world would turn to socialism.
By 1860, The Manifesto had fallen into obscurity and was not as important as it once was but that would change in the latter part of the nineteenth-century when Karl Marx grew more influential in socialist circles. Russia became the world’s first socialist state with the Manifesto being its primary outline for the new social order.
Rowson (The Wasteland), a political cartoonist whose scabrous style can be traced right back to Ralph Steadman, has produced a funny and nightmarishly dark graphic adaptation of communism's foundational document. Rowson reimagines the book as a kind of lecture, with the bearded authors Marx with a cigar in his hand and a cynical smirk on his face, Engels holding a great red flag yet to be unfurled strolling through a hellish landscape in which demonic steampunk machines grind up hapless proletarians into grist for the capitalist mill. At one point, Marx lectures in a "Kapitalist Komedy Club" open-mic night. Though the backdrops, with their Pink Floyd's The Wall aesthetic, can distract, this adaptation admirably boils down Marx's history lessons and luridly illustrates the warning that the bourgeoisie class produces "its own grave-diggers." While the book takes Marx's assumptions about the inevitability of a vast proletarian uprising at face value, it also includes a wry coda on the aftermath of Marx-inspired revolutions. The result is a jauntily irreverent but fundamentally serious take on a vastly influential political work.